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People you may know

If you’ve ever wondered how Facebook figures out all of the people you may know, here is some reading material. 

The short answer is that Facebook doesn’t just know the things you’ve told it about yourself, it also knows what other people have told it about you. 

One of the ways in which this is done is through its so called “shadow profiles". These are profiles that get created when other people share information about you with Facebook. 

For example, you may not want to share your work email address with Facebook, but if it’s sitting in someone’s phone and that person decides to share his/her address book with Facebook, then it could show up in your shadow profile.

And if there’s a common data point, such a phone number, then Facebook can fairly easily link that work email address back to you and start suggesting people from your work that you may know.

The scary part, of course, is that Facebook is getting your information without you explicitly sharing it with them. It could be coming from that person you gave your business card to at the bar.

It goes to show you just how fierce the competition is for our attention. It may be an assault on our privacy, but more Facebook connections means a higher likelihood that we’ll stay engaged on the platform.

Over the past year I have been growing increasingly intolerant of this demand for my time. Slowly but surely I have been turning off all nonessential notifications on my phone. 

Very few now remain, which is why if you’ve been trying to reach me on Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn or some other platform, and I’m not responding, it’s because there’s a good chance I’m not seeing the notifications.

And let me tell, it feels liberating.

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